Our family got a gym membership for Christmas. Our children are involved in sports and we live in a cold climate so it made sense to offer them an opportunity to get their exercise and practice in a gym since our driveway is covered in ice. What about me? Well, I am not the exercising type. I can sit for long periods of time without getting antsy. I give myself lots of excuses about what I cannot do instead of keeping the positive perspective of what I can do. I desire to be athletic, but ...
One day a week the gym has open court for playing volleyball. My husband and kids really like it. I soon realized that to please them, I should at least attempt to play. The day came and I found myself to be a total grump! I was in no mood to do anything with anyone and it was the day after Christmas so my stomach had its own workout consuming an obscene amount of goodies. It was impossible! The mood was so consuming that I felt utterly defenseless. By the grace of GOD, I made it to Holy Mass at 5:15 pm. I was even grumpy that my husband joined me! (Now, understand, I usually am thrilled that he would be interested in something spiritual. That just reveals how HUGE of a grump I'm talking about!)
I found myself in a battle at church again. Tears were streaming down my face. I was capable of realizing that there was no reason for my mood – I couldn’t blame anyone. I wanted to say it had something to do with the fact that it was shortly after my father’s birthday – the first one since his death. But inside of me I knew that this was a stretch, and that even if that was true, it gave me no rights to be grumpy with my husband and children.
No. This situation was an opportunity given to me as grace and I didn’t want anything to do with it. I sat defeated in the pew – but not in discouragement. Instead, I was reminded that I was loved, even when grumpy. I was reminded to rely on MOM (Blessed Mother). I began to beg for her comfort and help. Miraculously, I began to pray for a good mood as a gift to my husband and children. It was the first time I wasn’t asking for this gift for “me.” Normally I want to do better so that I am better in my own eyes – so that I am not humiliated. This time, WE (Mary and me) relied on the truth about my weakness, and my self-absorption and asked for the gift of charity. Wow. The results were amazing. I made it to the gym after dinner and played 5 games of volleyball – laughing and sweating and making lots of errors, and having fun. On the drive home it hit me - my prayers were answered. While playing volleyball, I had forgotten that I specifically prayed for that grace.
One of the images given to me to help me realize just how in need I am of Mary’s arms was to think of myself as a person without arms and legs in the spiritual life. It helps me remember just how desperate I am in fighting my pride on my own. Can a person without arms/legs run a marathon? Well, the spiritual life can often seem like a marathon to the soul. It takes a lot of effort to work on virtues such as patience, love my neighbor as myself, hope, charity! My soul fights against these things. I have the desire to be loving, similarly to my desire to be athletic. I just don't have the will for it. That is exactly why I am entrusted to Blessed Mother. I am so grateful for this way, for MOM's arms.
"Nothing is impossible for someone who remains before God with a spiritually childlike attitude. The building of communion of life with Mary will become your way to sanctification." (S.C. Biela, In The Arms of Mary, 2nd. ed, rev. (Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2005), 165.)